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Man killed by police identified as Justin Steele

Aug 5, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Officials have confirmed that the man killed in an officer-involved shooting last week on the Wind River Indian Reservation was Justin Steele, 26, of Pavillion.

Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan obtained a copy of Steele's fingerprints Monday afternoon and was able to confirm the man's identity Tuesday morning.

No identification was found on the body, which was autopsied Thursday in Loveland, Colo.

It may take four to six weeks to know the official cause of Steele's death, McAuslan said.

Toxicology information will be available at that time as well.

Time of death

McAuslan expects to receive radio log records Tuesday that he will use to determine exactly when Steele died.

The incident began at about 8 p.m. July 29 in Pavillion, when someone called police to say a man had shot out the window of a vehicle with a 9-millimeter pistol.

The man reportedly was still armed and "walking around town," according to the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.

The reporting party referred to the suspect as "brother-in-law" and said that the suspect had "shot out a friend's car window and is now walking by ... still armed."

Local officials said no one was injured as a result of the gunfire in Pavillion.

While responding to the call, a deputy saw the victim vehicle with the missing window traveling on Blue Sky Highway -- or Wyoming Highway 132 -- near Ethete. The deputy made contact with the vehicle, which contained three occupants.

Two of the people were compliant, but reports state the third person -- Steele -- was not. Officials said the non-compliant passenger "appears" to have been the suspect in the Pavillion-area weapons offense.

Units with the Wind River Police Department arrived at the scene and assisted with the non-compliant person. During the encounter with law enforcement, the man was shot fatally by an officer with a federal agency, according to the FCSO.

Deputies were present at the scene. The WRPD is a federal agency under the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Wyoming Highway 132 was closed at about 9:45 p.m. July 29 north of Lander from milepost 8 to Kinnear in connection with the shooting. The road reopened at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Highway officials said the area of interest was at the bottom of "Hell hill" about four miles north of Ethete.

Intentional shooting

Federal officials say the law enforcement officer who shot Steele fired on purpose.

"It was not an accidental discharge of a weapon," said Dave Joly, media coordinator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Denver Division.

On Wednesday, Joly said initial results of the FBI investigation indicated the incident was isolated.

"Public safety does not appear to be at risk," he said in an e-mail.


Oct. 14: No charges to be filed in police shooting

Sept. 17: Information on police shooting will not be shared

Sept. 12: Man killed in police shooting was drunk

Aug. 28: Police shooting -- Pavillion isn't Ferguson, Mo., but the public still needs to know what happened

Aug. 1: Autopsy done in shooting death; no ID confirmed yet

July 31: Feds say officer fired intentionally in deadly incident on reservation

July 30: Man shot to death in altercation with police on reservation